Graham Coxon

Love Travels at Illegal Speeds

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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Since Graham Coxon began his solo career with deliberate obscurist, alienating indie rock, it was easy to miss his transition back to the pop skills that he extravagantly displayed as the guitarist for Blur, but 2004's Happiness in Magazines was a full-bodied, full-throttle pronouncement that he had returned to the music that made his mark -- and it was damn good too, filled with tight pop songwriting and barbed-wire guitar. Its 2006 follow-up Love Travels at Illegal Speeds betters it in every respect, upping the ante in both its sound and songs. Coxon's writing is taut and precise. Where his earlier solo records felt a little haphazard, as if he was trying to rein in his natural talent for hooks, he lets them accumulate here and lets them build; consequently, this is music that has a bright immediate impact in its tunefulness, but repetition reveals how well-constructed it is. And those repeated listens don't dull the appeal of Love Travels at Illegal Speeds. Much of this is taut, tantalizing pop -- grounded in the melodicism of British Invasion but played with the nervy precision of art-punk -- and while Coxon doesn't work with much more than guitars, bass, drums and harmonies, he finds a variety of lively rhythms and unpredictable textures that not only make this sound fresh, but reveals new sounds upon repeated place. Coxon's ambitions on Love Travels at Illegal Speeds may not be grand -- he has simply made a punky pop album (which is different than punk-pop) -- but his execution is exceptional, which makes this a very appealing album.

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